The draws for the Cameroon 2021 Africa Cup of Nations are out signaling a new season in the Chipolopolo calendar. Given the failure to qualify for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations the stakes will be higher to be among the elite of the African game in Cameroon in 2021.
The pain of missing out on the 2017 and 2019 Africa Cup of Nations may provide enough incentive to desire to be at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations. Initial indications had been that 2019 will be a dormant season in football terms but may prove a much more active season given the competitions that Zambia will be lining up for qualification.
The Chipolopolo boys will be begin its campaign for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in November where they are grouped with reigning African champions Algeria, Zimbabwe and Botswana. Fixtures are not yet out but Zambia will be in action on Match-Day One and Two on the period November 11-19, 2019 while Match Day Three and Four are scheduled for the weekend of August 31 and September 8, 2020.
Match Day Five is scheduled for the weekend of October 5-13, 2020 and Match Day Six during the Weekend of November 9-17, 2020.
On top of AFCON duty the African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifiers are firmly in motion with Zambia in action on Friday (July 26) and August 3 against the Zebras of Botswana.
Winner over two legs will have one more round to contend with before grabbing the ticket to the Cameroon 2020 CHAN to be staged in January.
Winner between the Zebras and the Chipolopolo will take on either Angola or eSwatini.
Perhaps much more exciting is the Zambia Under-23 chase for Olympic glory with the final qualifying round for the Africa Zone in September.
Zambia plays Congo Brazzaville on September 4 at home before trekking to Pointe Noire for the return leg five days later.
Eight teams will qualify for the under-23 Africa Cup of Nations to be hosted by Egypt in November.
Top three teams automatically to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The woman teams will be in action in the next few days with the Senior Women National Team participating the 2019 Cosafa Women’s Championship that commences on July 31 in Port Elizabeth.
There will also be the under-20 Women Championship in action at the same time in Port Elizabeth.
The Zambia under-17 men’s team will join the Cosafa party in Malawi in September in another regional tournament.
At the close of the year in December there will be the Mopani Copper Mines sponsored under-20 tournament in Kitwe.
The stage is set for a rollercoaster for the final stretch of the 2019 football calendar.
Domestically the league action will see Zambia launch its first CAF aligned league season that kicksoff next season.
With the Zambian league highly ranked by CAF, the incentive for good performance for the clubs could be higher.
Standing sixth on the CAF National Leagues ranking puts the Zambian league in the spotlight.
With the calendar laid bare, the onus lies on the various national teams to rise to the occasion and take Zambian football to even greater heights. Could the return to the Olympics be realized this time around? Is Cameroon 2021 within touching distance? Could the Cosafa 2019 victory spur the CHAN team to aspire for greater achievements at the Cameroon 2020 Games?